I cannot believe that Thanksgiving is this week. So odd! This will be the second Thanksgiving in a row that I am out of the country. I've been thinking a lot about Galilee this week (that's where we were at this time last year) and remembering the amazing spiritual nourishment I received there. Wow! The things I experienced there changed my whole life.
My studies this week on the subject have been inspiring. Do you read about the attribute in PMG? Chapter 10 just has a short paragraph on each attribute and coordinating scriptures. It is a great place to kick off. As I was studying I remembered a talk that Sister Bullock gave in my first Zone Conference. She talked about the three kinds of love being, "I will love you if...," "I love you because...," and "I love you even though...." I decided to give them names. The first is conditional love. In order to receive the love you must meet certain conditions. This is the love of the world. The world says, "We will love you if you look and act like us." A bad group of friends says to a teenager, "We will love you if you smoke with us." A manipulative partner says, "I will love you if you do what I want." The second kind of love is very familiar to us. I call it reactive love. This is the husband who returns from a long day of work and says to his wife, "I love you because you cook such nice meals." This is the Relief Society sister who turns to her visiting teaching companion and says, "I love you because you are always prompt." Expressing reactive love is nice and helps build others, but at the end of the day, reactive love is still conditional love. The only difference is the conditions have already been met.
The Saviour loves neither conditionally nor re-actively. I like to call the Saviour's love proactive love. He is always the first to reach out and he expects nothing in return. His love is Charity. Charity says to the leper, "I love you even though others shun you." Charity says to the little children, "I love you even though I am tired." It was through charity that the Saviour asked the Father to forgive the Roman soldiers even though they mocked, scourged and crucified him. It was through charity, proactive love, that Jesus Christ suffered for our sins even though he knew many of us would not accept his sacrifice. We know we must have Charity to enter into the Kingdom of God (Moroni 7) and it occurred to me that in order to say "I love you even though..." we must be given "even though" experiences. We could not love those who persecuted us if we were not persecuted! I now see that I can thank the Lord for all of the "even though" experiences I've had in my life and while on my mission.
Sister Snell continues to be a strength and a joy to serve with! The Lord is blessing us for our desires to work hard. I am becoming stronger in spirit and in skill. I had some "aha!" moments this week when I realised just how much the Lord has been blessing me. He has blessed me a lot. When I step back and look at it, I am shocked at how He has enabled me. Here's an example: We have a former investigator, Joe, who has been on my mind a lot lately. I only met him twice but last night I saw this young man at least a hundred yards ahead of us. It was from the back AND it was dark. There's no way I could know who he was, but the Spirit said, "There's Joe." It came so strong, I almost just shouted his name, but I decided instead to power walk and catch up with him. Besides, he seemed taller than Joe had been and we were in a totally different area. I was doubting the Spirit (don't do that). As we nonchalantly passed him, I turned, "Good evening, sir. Oh! Joe?" Smoooooth : ) But yes. It was him and we had a good conversation. His little brother just went into the hospital for a serious mental breakdown and we were able to provide comfort. It's so good to feel the Spirit working through you, even for something as small as that. There are others ways the Lord has magnified me. Simply staying awake during lessons can be a miracle when I consider how tired I am/should be. My eyes are also being opened (no pun intended...teehee) to everything I need to improve. There's a lot. But it's coming. And Sister Snell is very patient with my shortcomings. I am trying to be better about using prayer as a return and report system. In the mornings I ask what I should work on that day and at night I report on how it went. If I can really learn how to include the Lord that way, I know it will change my life.
We have three new investigators this week! I won't jinx them, but as they progress I will let you know more about them.
The weather is very cold. People were right when they said the dampness adds to the chill. But, as cheesy as it sounds, being filled with the Spirit can really keep you warm. There are nights where we tract for hours and I don't seem to feel a thing until I walk into the flat and realise just how cold I am! Miracle. The boots I brought with me (and the Dansko shoes) are PERFECT. I feel so, so, so, so blessed and lucky that I have had no shoe problems!
We listened to the Nauvoo Pageant CD while cleaning our flat this morning. It brought back such great memories. Nauvoo is so precious to me. I want to go every summer for the rest of my life!! Can I do that?
Missions are just like meat tenderizers for your heart. I do not want to leave England at all and yet I would give anything to be with you on a cozy Rexburg Thanksgiving! I would just cry for the joy of being with our family! Makes no sense at all.
Oh! I got your letter of the "admirations." That meant a whole lot to me! You really lose your identity as a missionary. Everyone in the ward loves you, but at the same time, they don't really love you....they love the missionaries. It's wonderful to be swallowed up in the service of the Lord, but it is also touching to remember there are people who love me without the tag : )